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Disco Inferno Shoot Interview
Posted by Brandon Truitt on Apr 14, 2003, 20:00
This is going to be a light intro because I found out at the last minute today that I was working overtime and, as a result, have just gotten home to finish up this article.
The one thing I'll talk about is the rumor that John Cena will lose in the finals of the #1 Contender tournament on Smackdown to Chris Benoit. While I have no problem with either guy facing Lesnar, it's best right now for a new fresh heel to be facing Lesnar than a guy who's a face and, just a few months back at the Rumble, got a HUGE ovation after losing his match with Angle.
The logic behind it also sucks as it's rumored to happen because Cena's match with Undertaker didn't impress people backstage. Considering that Taker has had maybe three good matches in as many years and that those matches were either against bump machine Rob Van Dam, uber-worker Kurt Angle, or all around superstar The Rock, it's very unfair to hold Cena to that kind of standard. It's even more unfair to do so when Cena's victory over Taker was about six guys short of what it took to job in a casket match back at Rumble 94. I guess he's mellowed a bit if it only took him 4 guys to lose to a guy who'll be the #1 contender instead of taking 10 guys to lose to the champion...
As always, you can feel free to Drop me an e-mail, read the archives, buy me stuff, or buy yourself stuff at Highspots.com.
Disco Inferno Shoot Interview (7-18-2001)
The tape opens with an indy match featuring Disco Inferno vs. Crowbar (Devon Storm) in a table match. This is from 2001 as Disco is announced as a former WCW Cruiserweight champion while Crowbar is announced as a former WCW Crusierweight and Hardcore champion. LONG match as it goes about 20 minutes if you include the intros. Disco attempts to powerbomb Crowbar, who does a Kidman-like reversal and then powerbombs Disco through a table in the corner for the win.
The interview begins with the standard question of how he got into the business. After he finished college, he had a connection through a guy who booked travel for the NWA and decided to go into wrestling. He was a big wrestling fan growing up.
Who broke him into the business- Steve “The Brawler” Lawler, although it was a school that belonged to Bill Eadie (Demolition Ax, Masked Superstar).
Best advice he got early in his career- How he was taught to act in the locker room, which was a cycle of respect. A lot of guys, including people trained at the Power Plant, don’t know that and get heat as a result (Appropriate, considering this was around the time that Chuck Palumbo and Shawn O’Haire were getting heat for the same thing).
What territory was it? North Georgia Wrestling
His early work- He liked goofy gimmicks, as did the territory’s announcers, Scott Hudson and Steven Presiac. He would do crap like be dressed up in a slave outfit and be lead to the ring by a woman holdinga chain, be “Mr. Magnificent” because he was wearing a Mil Mascaras mask with an M on it, pretending to be a Georgia millionaire, etc. Basically any way he could be obnoxious, he did it.
Who influenced him- Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who knows a lot about the business and psychology but is completely screwed up. “Everyone always taught me the moves… he taught me how to get a character over.” He calls him one of the most brilliant minds in wrestling but says his personal problems keep him from holding a job as a booker.
The Disco Inferno character- He and Raven came up with it when they were hanging out one day. No one was doing a gimmick like that at the time, so they went with it.
Raven, in and out of the ring- In the ring, excellent. “I was more of a fan of his when he was messed up on drugs. He was just a young guy that just liked to go party.” They were both in Memphis at the same time. “I was there for like a month and I sucked”, so he wasn’t there long. Around the time he left, Raven, then Scotty Flamingo, became Johnny Polo in the WWF.
The road schedule- “Unbelievable. You’d leave and get home like four days later.” He says that Jerry “The King” Lawler used to get pulled over going 100 miles an hour but that the cops would get up to the car, notice it was him, and say “Sorry, King” and just let him go.
Other talent there at the time Scott Taylor (Scotty II Hotty in the WWE), Jeff Gaylord, Brian Christopher, etc. “Just about the only guy who’s still on TV now is Scotty Taylor.”
Feuding with Miss Texas (Jacqueline in the WWE)- It wasn’t much of a feud when you’re only wrestling in front of about 250 people. He didn’t mind putting her over in matches, though.
Memories of the NGWA- “Hysterical.” The production was so low-rent that they were going to have a Coal Miner’s Glove match and he asked if they even had a coal miner’s glove and they didn’t. They sent a referee who was mentally handicapped out to get one and he came back an hour later with an oven mitt and they put electrical tape around it.
Going to WCW- He was friends with Diamond Dallas Page, who was in with WCW head Eric Bischoff, and he was doing Mid-South TV tapings with Terry Taylor, who was on the WCW booking committee. Between them, they got him a dark match against Kanyon and got a pretty good reaction with the Disco Inferno gimmick.
Eric Bischoff- Very professional. He didn’t interact with him much since he was very low on the card.
Did he try to go to ECW around that time? No, because he thought he wasn’t good enough. He talks about how you usually think that you’re better than you are and how he’s recently re-watched the promo tape he sent to Memphis, which sucks. He says that if he was running the territory, there’s no way he’d have hired himself based on that tape. ECW was also so violent that he felt it was not his element and didn’t even try.
Expectations in WCW- Everyone figured it would be an obnoxious midcard gimmick like the Honkytonk Man in the WWF and that he may hold the TV title.
Who had influence on the gimmick? Terry Taylor, DDP, and William Regal helped him a lot. Regal in particular insisted that Disco wear the flared bell-bottom pants to the ring and go all out with his wardrobe.
What was the WCW locker room like? “The second week I was there, I walked into the locker room about 15 minutes after Vader got the Hell beat out of him by Paul Orndorff.” There was obvious heat between some people that would later escalate into a fight, though you don’t see that much today. He figures it was a power changeover due to Ric Flair being kicked out as a booker in favor of Kevin Sullivan. He never had any problems personally because he’d do whatever they wanted, such as jobbing to Alex Wright. (I’m not quite sure what the deal is with his attitude, but few people I’ve ever heard of in WCW liked working with him. Both Paul Roma and Jim Duggan shot on him on PPV while one of Steve Austin’s chief bitches about the end of his run in WCW was that he was being told “Go out there and pull 10 minutes out of this new German kid we’ve found.”)
How was he treated? He had heat from the guys at the Power Plant because DDP made the dumbass mistake of telling people that Disco was “going to save the business”. (Jesus… DDP might as well have tattooed a bullseye on Disco’s back.) They were also mad at Page for bringing in an outsider rather than calling one of them up. The heat gradually dissipated because everyone liked the gimmick.
Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage- He doesn’t have any memories of them back in 1995 because they both had their own dressing rooms. “They’re superstars. They had stars on their doors” and wouldn’t hobnob with the undercard guys.
Did people have problems with him interfering with their entrances? Not that he ever heard of. He didn’t know a lot of inside stuff so he’d just borrow a copy of the Wrestling Observer to see who had heat with who. He says he’s always been obnoxious and outspoken, so he probably got a decent amount of heat from it.
His first series- It was just a series of matches with Alex Wright where Wright won every time. His first real program was with Dean Malenko and it was the first time in WCW where he got promo time. He’d never wrestled Dean’s style before so he trained his ass off to go in there and do 16 minutes with Malenko at Bash At The Beach. He was surprised by the number of signs he saw for him at the PPV.
Malenko outside the ring- “If they ever put Malenko outside the ring on TV, he’d be one of the top five guys in the business.” (I hear that a lot about him... too bad it never translated into anything good character-wise besides his short James Bond-style run in the WWE hitting on Lita.) “Dean’s problem is that he tries to be a serious wrestler in the ring instead of being himself.”
Jim Duggan- It was just a quick squash before a PPV. He talks about how the booking was different back then because only 25% of the matches had any storyline behind them.
Feuding with Miss Texas in WCW- He was training at the Power Plant when he got called into Eric’s office to discuss an angle with him and Kevin Sullivan. Eric was for it and “Sullivan was pushing himself because Jackie was with him at the time” but he was sour on it because of it. This was when he had four months left on his contract and Kevin made some comment about him disappearing for six months, so wheels started turning in his head about how they were probably trying to bury him should he go to the WWF. He ended up convincing them to get heat on him and they came back with “Well, she beat up Chris Benoit”, to which he replied “Well, then get her to do the match with Benoit.” When he realized how differently all of them saw wrestling when Bischoff started making comments about comedy wrestlers and then started talking about a “serious angle” that Roddy Piper did, which they saw as realistic and he saw as being incredibly fake. Major philosophical differences with the two of them. They had told him he was only being asked to do it and not being told, so he thought it over for a few days and told Eric he was against it, at which point he was told he’d breached his contract and that he was fired. He figured he was going to be fired anyway, so he wasn’t shocked.
Did anyone protest on his behalf? He had asked a bunch of people, including members of the booking committee, whether he should do it and was told not to by all of them.
Coming back to WCW- He got calls from Bruce Pritchard and Jim Cornette in the WWF, but that went nowhere. Sting eventually got him rehired in WCW so he could do a gimmick with Alex Wright. The second time around, the whole Jackie deal was explained in more detail. The first time, he was told “Go out there and have a hell of a match” with her but he questioned how that would happen with a 225 pound guy and a 125 pound girl. The second time, it was explained to him as “Well, you’ve been taught never to hit a girl” and that he’d be scared to hurt her as a result, so he was able to build a match around that.
Does he regret not putting her over the first time? No, because they wouldn’t have rehired him afterwards. The second time, Terry Taylor was in charge of the book and put the TV title on him immediately, then said “You can’t beat our TV champ with a girl”, trying to find every way possible to keep him from doing it.
The indy scene between WCW stints- He got stiffed on checks every so often, which made him go “Man I need to get back to work [in the WWF or WCW].” On one of those indy shows, he worked against Rob Van Dam. It was the first really good match he’d had with a guy who’d been called a good worker.
Was there a chance of him getting hired in ECW? He was hanging out with Raven at ECW shows but wasn’t really asking for a job. “The day I traveled with him was the day Sandman and Shane Douglas almost got into a fight in the locker room.”
Was he surprised the WWF didn’t pick him up? No, because he dealt with the wrong people (Cornette and Pritchard) instead of Jim Ross. “I was the victim of false Internet rumors” because people were saying he’d signed with the WWF. He even called up Dave Meltzer to say he hadn’t signed and the next issue said “Despite what the Disco Inferno says, our sources say he’s signed.” (The big rumor was that he was signed to be Honkytonk Man’s new protégé, which ended up being Billy Gunn as Rockabilly because he refused to job to Rob Van Dam when ECW invaded the WWF.)
WCW’s locker room the second time around- It was different because the nWo angle was really kicking in. He was friends with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall around that time, so he didn’t have heat with anyone and people were trying to get him pushed.
How was he treated by Nash and Hall? Great. They always had constructive criticism for him.
Scott Hall outside the ring- “He went through binges” where he’d do stupid stuff, but he was fine most of the time. It never affected his performance.
Did he like the cruiser style? No, he preferred to do the regular style instead. He says that the cruisers are acrobats while the other style is for people who draw money and that every move they do means something. (I see his point but would love him to tell me how any one of Undertaker’s 50 “soupbone rights” in his average match tells a story other than “This guy is the shits in the ring now.”) He preferred the “big guys style” because he could sell the punches and so forth while most of the cruisers couldn’t punch very well.
Favorite Lucha guys to work with? Juventud Guerrera and Billy Kidman. Kidman was the best worker of them when he was in The Flock because he had a gimmick and worked it well, as well as having a good
match. “He had more American-type stuff” while the Luchas did stuff that made you suspend disbelief.
How did people react to the big fallout between Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff? “Everyone figured that Hogan was so far in Eric’s ear that it was Hogan calling the shots.” Hogan was getting older but Flair was older than him but could still go in the ring. He feels there was a lot of jealously there as a result.
The talent meeting where Bischoff said the only people who ever drew in the room were Hogan and Piper- It was not a very educated statement because Piper, Hogan, and Savage had drawn all of their money in the WWF. “Top guys rise to the top, but you can never draw money unless the promotion is pushing you. The promotion draws the money, not the guy.” It didn’t crush the locker room’s morale because they knew the old guys were in his ear feeding him bullshit. He feels the older guys have a different viewpoint than them because they’re very competitive to stay on top.
Bill Goldberg- People were jealous of his push for not paying his dues for the first few years, although they later realized that people WOULD be paying dues if there was a place to pay them. He says that the Power Plant was actually tougher than being on the road working matches, so they’ve paid their dues in different ways. People were pissed at Goldberg’s push at first when he was jobbing guys until they heard how the crowd reacted for him. Once he was over, everyone backed off.
Was it frustrating to be off WCW PPVs in late 1997 and early 1998? A little, but the cards were really stacked back then. They’d have 10 or 15 guys at a TV taping who didn’t work a match that night and even more guys sitting at home. The real problem with WCW was that you could sit on your ass making guaranteed money and only working a few days a month, but you’d have to go on the road if you had an angle. (I’m guessing this is why a decent amount of angles were shot down… no one wanted to have to leave home to work against certain guys all over the country.)
How did Bischoff change as WCW changed? Bischoff started to believe that their success was due to a simple formula but it wasn’t. They’d waste TV time to the point where the show got stale, with Hogan doing 5 minute interviews just because he was Hogan, etc. “He was a victim of success” and people could see the frustration when things started going down.
Infighting- The Hogan clique and the Wolfpac (Hall and Nash’s clique) were feuding behind the scenes, with the Wolfpac attempting to explain to Bischoff that the main WCW audience were between about 18 and 34 and that they were NOT interested in hearing about Hogan’s pythons anymore.
What changes would he have made at the time? He would have changed the ways they produced characters. “They had crappy music, no lights, here comes the jabroni walking down the aisle.” This was around the time that the WWF was using the TitanTron, so he would have improved production in general and tried to create more “superstar-like characters instead of guys just walking out there.”
Matches with Alex Wright- Alex taught him technical wrestling while Disco taught Alex character psychology. They had good matches as a result.
Backstage cancers at the time- He doesn’t know who was leaking to the sheets, but someone was feeding them stories about there being a lot of tension. Everyone thought there might be a fight between Hogan and Nash, but it appears that comments they said about each other just got magnified because both people involved were top guys. “It was way different from 1992 when Scott Steiner was threatening Bill Watts because everyone was getting paid good money.”
Konnan- Konnan liked his character and they had a good clash, especially since Konnan got kicked out of the Wolfpac and Disco got his spot. Konnan was easy to work with in the ring, as his only problem was that he didn’t bump well.
Morale in the locker room at the time- Houses started going down around that time. People were laid back and would play cards, joke around, etc. though.
How did things changed when the WWF started winning the ratings war? They didn’t care because that was the top guys’ problems. “You can blame whoever you want but all the problems start from the top down.” (Someone REALLY needs to tell the McMahons this when they look at the RAW ratings and the PPV buyrates from the last year when Taker and Triple H were the two big main event guys. When Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels draws an 0.5 buyrate, the lowest since Michaels vs. Ken Shamrock at In Your House: D-Generation X, you don’t blame a guy like Rob Van Dam who was eating a Reuben sandwich at The World that night. (No one has spread any blame, publicly anyway, so this is just an example.)) When the WWF started beating them every week, he wrestled Wrath (Brian Clarke of Kronik) and Kevin Nash bitched him out because he went two minutes too long and “we lost the quarter hour. His response was “Kevin, we’re losing ALL the quarter hours.” You could see the top guys trying to keep the midcarders down because they’d say “Good match” if they didn’t see your match or be very critical if they had seen it. The office was trying to push blame onto the wrestlers and the wrestlers were saying “All you’ve given me is an opponent, a finish, and some time to fill with a match. There’s no angle, no program”, etc. etc. etc. He says that they would watch the WWE and see what Vince Russo was writing, which ended up getting their guys over and that the WCW guys realized they didn’t have that on their show.
Who was he tight with in the locker room? The Filthy Animals like Kidman, mainly. All of the midcard guys were tight as a group, though. No one in the midcard feuded with each other at the time.
Public Enemy- Horrifying matches because Johnny Grunge sucked. “They thought they were over like the Road Warriors of the new century.” Alex Wright in particular hated Grunge.
What was the locker room reaction to the celebrities coming in and working matches? He says that there was an old-school mentality by some of the boys then starts bitching about Jim Cornette and kayfabe in Ohio Valley Wrestling. “I hear he still doesn’t let the faces and the heels ride together there. Who exactly are the marks here?” He starts asking why Cornette would want to market his product to the 5% of fans who think its real instead of the 95% who know it’s a work. He feels that bringing in the celebrities was a good idea but most of the old-school guys bitched about it.
Sidenote- Cornette has said in other places that he and most other people know that wrestling is a work but that you don’t rub it in people’s faces. “At the end of the movie, you don’t see John Wayne ride off into the sunset with the Indians.” It makes it easier to buy into feuds if you don’t see the guys getting into the same car at the end of the night.
Feuding with Perry Saturn- They worked together fine. He got lost in a match on TV against Saturn and Saturn got pissed as a result, throwing some worked kicks to the head that looked like they were pretty stiff and which got Terry Taylor to bitch out Saturn for shooting in a match. Things picked up once they did the second half of the match, after the commercial break, and people came up to them afterwards and told them how good a match they had. It’s the only time he’s ever been totally lost in a match.
Hogan announcing his retirement in late 1998- He doesn’t even remember it. “If anything, it was probably about time.”
Ric Flair’s big return in South Carolina- A huge reaction from the crowd for Flair just walking out to the ring. He feels they dropped the ball on it because “you had a bunch of old guys telling the office that Flair was old.” The fans knew that Flair was old and that he was still better than 95% of the guys out there, so the other old guys on top got jealous.
Kevin Nash as a booker and him beating Goldberg- “He didn’t get the book until three weeks after he pinned Goldberg.” People knew it was coming because the crowd was getting tired of the winning streak. The Fingerpoke Of Doom was Nash was trying to build a faction of five guys that Goldberg would go through over the next 10 PPVs in order to get the belt back. The problem was that things kept changing overnight because Eric Bischoff would look at the ratings, freak out, and then change 10 months of storylines to do something else. A lot of the midcarders would get pissed at Kevin because they think he's burying them. Example- Kevin Nash was down on Malenko and Benoit because they were “too small.” Disco says he told Nash “Kevin, you’re seven feet tall… they’re just too small to work with you” because he thinks that someone who’s obviously much smaller being competitive with a large guy is bad acting. He says that people wanted the good workers to be pushed better but that he feels that they should be able to tell a better match than them going 50-50 with someone much larger than them. He says there’s a reason that most people are in the midcard.
The five ways he feels that people draw money are to:
1. Have a good look.
2. Have a good interview
3. Be a good actor
4. Take crazy bumps
5. Be a good worker
He says that most of the top people have all five of these, although Mick Foley was an exception. He looked like crap but his acting, interviews, and bump-taking made up for it. He says most people that are good workers can’t talk, can’t act, etc. “The competition isn’t wrestling anymore… it’s Boston Public, King of Queens, etc. and you need good actors to pull it off.” He brings up the timely example of how, since Austin’s hurt, he’s been doing backstage skits with Vince McMahon and it’s been ratings gold. (This was back when Austin and Kurt Angle were the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck of wrestling. “You’re a jackass” “I’m a hero” “Jackass” “Hero”, etc.) He suggests that good workers who want a push should take acting lessons.
Did he ever become unmotivated? Yes, especially at the end when he was writing, booking, and wrestling. He said that the office was messing with them when they wrote the shows. “You want to see what’s wrong with WCW? Look at the intros that Booker T and Buff Bagwell got when they wrestled on RAW.” The production people in WCW weren’t doing a good job and were fighting them all the way, so things looked like crap. He gives the example of a WCW show in England where the Natural Born Thrillers had just turned on Kevin Nash and they wanted them to show up in a limo. The production guy got them a bus instead. “Why can’t we get a limo?” “A limo is $400 and a bus was only $250.” “Wait… this would be like if we said Ric Flair drove up in a limo and he ended up in a Pinto.” The production guys didn’t think they were pushing the right guys and would screw with them as a result.
We get a match break for Rob Van Dam vs. Disco Inferno from 2/4/1995 according to the tape’s display. Disco is in his Saturday Night Fever white leisure suit here. Give the man a bald spot and he’d look like Leisure Suit Larry. RVD wins with a split-legged moonsault.
Bret Hart entering WCW after Montreal- Everyone was talking about Montreal. He thinks it was a mistake to make Bret Hart a face when he came into the company considering how good he’d been as a heel in the WWF. It was also a mistake to put him against Flair immediately because Flair blew him away on the mic. Hall and Nash didn’t get along with him well, so that was another strike against him. (This is opposed to how Bret saw the situation, as he felt Nash was his friend and that he was truly looking out for Nash as WWF champion in 1995 rather than Shawn Michaels, who intentionally made himself look MUCH better than Nash in their match at Wrestlemania 11.)
Hogan returning to do the fingerpoke- “It was a bad angle because they didn’t explain the story well enough.” It was also pretty stupid to do it on a night where they had 35,000 people in the Georgia Dome because that got heat instead of a pop.
Chris Jericho leaving for the WWF- It was tremendous because Jericho was one of the best up and comers in WCW and they wished him well. Everyone was happy that he got a push upon entering the WWF, as opposed to WCW where no new guys got a push. (This sounds like the WWE of today where the only “new” guys who get a push tend to be old WCW main eventers. If someone like John Cena gets an initial push, they end up getting depushed soon afterwards. The reasons range from “having an attitude” to being sloppy in the ring (which I feel is legitimate in the case of Three Minute Warning but overstated in the case of Rob Van Dam), a feeling that they’re getting too much too fast, or Vince McMahon just deciding that he isn’t ready to give someone a bigger push than they’ve already gotten.)
Working with Buff Bagwell- They had decent matches together and they’d do a lot of Saturday night TV tapings. The problem was that he got too heavy and looked like he was in slow motion. He felt Bagwell and Too Cold Scorpio were a good team at one time but he started lifting too much weight or got too lazy and isn’t as good in the ring anymore. He thinks that Buff’s bad reputation is definitely deserved because he didn’t last too long in the WWE and people were making bets beforehand of how long he’d last. He figured that Buff would last a month but that Kanyon won the pool because he’d picked July 8 (this was about a week or so after Buff and Booker T had the abortion of a match that kicked off the Invasion.)
Working with Ernest Miller (The Cat)- He loved working with him and even talked the office into turning him heel because Cat would always go around talking smack about how he could beat everyone up. What you saw on TV was the real Cat. He was good to do an angle with because wasn’t good to work with in the ring because he isn’t good at bumping. He feels that he could be a star in the WWF because of his mouth.
Did people get frustrated when business was down and the same old guys were on top? Yes. For one thing, Hogan had gotten to the point where he had trouble walking to the ring and the fans noticed it. He feels that wouldn’t be a problem if he was a sideshow like Jim Duggan but he was still being pushed as a top draw. “What’s the point of having this guy on top while Hunter and Rock are having main events on RAW every night?” He would have put Jericho on top as a heel, Saturn and Malenko as a top tag team, Nash on top because he’s a giant, possibly Konnan but he wasn’t in shape, Vampiro, Rey Misterio, Juventud Guerrera, Booker T “the best athlete on our show, etc. He’d have put Sting on top but he would always come back out of shape.
The meeting where Bischoff offered everyone releases- Everyone was out until 6AM that morning and they had to come in for a meeting at 11AM. Raven was singled out right away and he just walked out of the room. He never really considered it because he was making good money.
Bischoff being replaced by Russo- He felt it was a good thing because he liked the WWF style of TV at the time. The problem was that Russo got a lot of old school resistance that he wasn’t used to getting in the WWF. The young guys supported him, though. He was in way over his head, though, and the main problem with the company was that no one person was in charge. The guy in charge of the company didn’t have total control and, as a result, the inmates would run the asylum and the old guys who knew that would manipulate things to help themselves as a result. Russo started trying to push the young guys and the old guys immediately started blocking him in every way possible. He didn’t have a support team like Bruce Pritchard, Gerald Brisco, Pat Patterson, etc. that Vince McMahon had to make sure that everything he wanted to do got done.
Sidenote- I don’t think I’ve heard a single interview about WCW that didn’t include the comment about the inmates running the asylum… It’s one of those constants in shoot interviews like Jim Herd being called an idiot for his poor WCW run from 1988 to 1991.
Was it smart bringing in Russo? It was a smart move but Russo was in over his head. The problem came in with production because he could mentally see what Russo was writing and know it would never make it on the air because of the production team being like it was. He says the ratings went up every time that Russo came in to book but then the company would decide that ratings weren't the most important thing to them. (I think that PPV buys and house show business should have been more important to them because the difference in a few tenths of a ratings point won’t cost them too much, while a tenth of a buyrate point would cost them millions.)
Impressions of Russo- He didn’t get to know him until he joined the booking committee. They had a conversation on a plane ride once where they saw eye to eye, such as the 45 year old main eventers who can’t go anymore being less important than the guys in their 20s busting their ass for the company. He still saw Russo as a mark, but they did see things similarly.
Lash Laroux- He doesn’t remember much about working against him. They were teaming together against Vito and Johnny The Bull later on. Johnny is very athletic but also very green. Vito’s a seasoned veteran, etc. They ended up working out a tag match, Johnny’s first on TV, that turned out to be a pretty good match.
Evan Karagias- Very athletic and charismatic. “Stripper-type presence.” His problem is that he would forget stuff, which meant he could do a 6 or 7 minute TV match fine but fell apart when you tried to do a 15 minute match on PPV. He liked working with him.
Bret Hart returning after Owen Hart’s death- Everyone knew Bret didn’t want to exploit what happened and they didn’t blame Vince for what happened, but Bret was bitter over it.
Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara pushing themselves on TV- Russo was learning how to work, in effect, to become a better worker. He was a good interview but not a good actor. The second time Russo was pushing himself, he wanted to take himself off of TV but Disco and the rest of the booking committee convinced him to keep going because they needed him to help turn Goldberg heel. They didn’t have any top heels at the time, which was a far guy from when they had what they dubbed the “Top 12”, which were Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, and so forth. “You can’t just take a midcard guy and elevate him because the four top guys are just working with each other. So how do you elevate him?” (Vince McMahon needs to ask himself that question.) Ferrara winning the Cruiserweight title needed to be seen as an over-the-top bit like something off of Jerry Springer.
Sidenote- I think that he’s full of crap on the Ferrara point. They had a viable Cruiserweight division with guys like Rey Misterio Jr, Eddy Guerrero, Psicosis, Juventud Guerrera, Blitzkreig, and others and yet they put the belt on Evan Karagias, Madusa Micelli, and Oklahoma (Ferrara). Mike Tenay made this point very well in his series of “shoot interviews” on NWA TNA with Vince Russo and members of his SEX faction.
Would it have been a good thing if David Flair had been sent to a territory to learn how to work before entering WCW full time? No. He sees the humor in having the son of a wrestling legend being some mark off the street who doesn’t know how to wrestle, resulting in David getting his ass kicked repeatedly. He thought that Flair had good “Boo! Get this guy out of here!” heat (known as Honkytonk Man heat, Bossman heat, or X-Pac heat, depending on your frame of reference) because he obviously didn’t know how to wrestle or act. When they tried to get him across as a wrestler, it went too far because he couldn’t wrestle.
Russo being replaced by Bill Busch- “Absolutely ridiculous.” He’d gotten the show up from a 2.8 to a 3.5 and he was fired like the next day. (Disco ignores the wild stories of Russo getting fired because his solution to Bret Hart forfeiting the belt was to put it on Tank Abbott.) Steiner, Jeff Jarrett, and others got pissed off over it.
Was he shocked when the Radicalz and Shane Douglas left? No, because there was a lot of heat between them and Kevin Sullivan due to comments he made to their faces about how they’d never get over and so forth. He feels that a part of it had to do with Benoit ending up with Sullivan’s wife after Sullivan booked his own divorce through one of his worked shoot angles that he loved so much. He feels that Sullivan is a fun guy to hang around but he has a tremendous reputation for backstabbing, so no one trusted him. “It was one of the worst moves this company could have made.”
Was it a chance for him to move up in the company? No, because the company was taking a step back at the time between the Radz leaving and the old-school guys regaining their control of the product. He felt it was a really bad move.
Vince Russo returning- He was skeptical that Russo and Bischoff could work together. Russo tried to tell a story of every angle, so it would be something good. During a meeting once, Russo did hand out a list of things to do and not to do on TV which did say “no restholds”, amongst other things. He says that when Booker and Bagwell did that on RAW, Vince McMahon was livid backstage. The midcard guys would respect the bosses but the old-school guys wouldn’t.
New Blood vs. Millionaire’s Club angle- The thing that ruined the angle was that Russo’s contract called for certain ratings by certain dates. That gimmick, however, broke down after three weeks because they were trying to get the numbers up instead of looking at trends.
Hogan and Russo at Bash At The Beach 2000- He knows that Jarrett laying down for Hogan was scripted and that Russo’s promo on Hogan afterwards was a shoot, but it was also something within Russo’s character on-screen at the time.
At what point did he get on the booking committee- It was a few weeks before Bash 2000 and Kevin Nash and a few other people convinced Bischoff to bring him in because they needed a younger perspective on the product. Bischoff thought that Disco wouldn’t agree with Russo’s view, but they saw eye to eye. He was the only guy who would ever butt heads with Russo because he’d have to explain that what Russo saw in his mind couldn’t be accomplished by WCW. He joined the crew in full once Bischoff left after Bash 2000.
What were his ideas? Lance Storm as a Canadian heel, Booker T’s push, making Tank Abbott into a goofy dancer with Three Count (He came up with this after seeing Tank get drunk and hold court in a bar after a show), etc. His favorite bit he came up with was definitely Storm’s Canadian heel run.
What was the worst bit that Russo came up with? David Arquette winning the belt was bad, but it was a publicity stunt because the ratings were in the toilet.
The Boogie Knights team- The only reason they weren’t pushed more was because he was on the booking committee. He doesn’t see the problem with it because he feels that everyone knew he wasn’t going to put himself over everyone else.
Juventud Guerrera’s drug bust in Australia- Juvy freaked out and it took six cops to take him down. He should have been sent to rehab because he was having personal problems at the time. Brad Siegel’s viewpoint was “Good, now we can get rid of him.” It wasn’t hypocritical with Scott Hall coming back because Hall had been gone long enough to forgive him for his problems, the crowds were chanting for him, and they were getting their asses handed to them in the ratings. Hall didn’t come back due to Siegel holding a grudge, as “he was dating the boss’s niece and Hall made a Jewish comment.” He says that them keeping Hall off TV for that was a big mistake but that Hall’s alcohol problems were forgotten because people with bigger problems were still on TV.
Russo giving himself the belt- It was bad. Russo thought that it would have gotten more heat than it did. It was supposed to be a one-day reign in order for him to vacate the belt and hold a title tournament. Disco told him there were better ways for him to get to that point but he wouldn’t listen.
Bill Goldberg changing due to success- Goldberg didn’t watch wrestling before he entered the business, got a big push, and doesn’t know why he got over. Once he got there, he had no clue how things work so he would shoot down ideas because he didn’t understand them. He’s got a great character and knows how to get over but doesn’t know crap about wrestling. Goldberg would proclaim “I don’t do comedy” yet would ignore it when people talk about how Arnold Schwartzennegar and Bruce Willis do comedy in their action films and that he couldn’t stay over for years if he was too serious.
Was Scott Steiner hard to deal with? “Not for me. He’s a hothead” and, because he’d been screwed over in the past, he thought everyone was always trying to get him whenever things went wrong and he’d get pissed. He had trouble getting the direction that Russo was trying to sell, with the worked shoots and the shoot interviews and so forth.
When did he see WCW going down? About a year before it happened. It was a joke around the office that the company was The Titanic. They knew what they had to do to fix the company yet no one did it.
What did they know about Bischoff’s backer, Fuscient Media? They didn’t know much about them but didn’t think it was a good idea. Bischoff did have some meetings with the guys about the takeover but they were never told outright that Fuscient had sealed the deal. During the middle of the whole deal, Brad Siegel had a meeting with all the wrestlers and told them the company wasn’t for sale but no one bought it. It was the only time they saw Siegel for 6 months.
When did they hear the WWF had bought WCW? He was doing 4 days of public relations for the Panama City Nitro at the time. He flew down there on Thursday and heard about the deal on Friday morning.
Sidenote (Background on the sale)- At the time, that show was going to be the last Nitro for several months because the company wanted to go dark while they found a new direction and to allow for new owners to get used to running the business. As it turned out, the new head of TBS, Jamie Kellner, hated wrestling with a passion and the first thing he did in his new position was to cancel Nitro and Thunder, which meant that the only group that still wanted WCW was the WWF. That ended up being a show where several titles changed hands, including Booker T defeating Scott Steiner to win his fourth WCW title before the show ended with Vince McMahon demeaning the WCW product on a TNT and TNN simulcast.
What was the day like for the final Nitro? The production people were sad because they were out of work but the boys were having fun. He didn’t end up talking to Shane McMahon that day because everyone else was trying to get a piece of his time.
Did the attitudes change backstage that day? Everyone was glued to the TV that day. He, Bob Ryder, Konnan, Jeff Jarrett, and some other people were sitting in the back watching TV when Vince did his opening for the final Nitro where he declared Jarrett to be G double O double N double E, a reference to the crappy gimmick Vince had given Jarrett in the mid-90s. Jeff turned around and said “Well, I guess I’ve got heat…”
Did Shane have a meeting with the workers? Yes, and he was given a standing ovation.
Should the big-money guys like Goldberg, Nash, and Hogan have been there? Why bother when it’s the last night for the company and they’re not going to the WWF.
What were things like after the show? Everyone just went home and waited for instructions for about three weeks.
Does he regret not being in the WWF? He’s just going to sit on the sidelines for the Invasion because they’re going to need Goldberg, Nash and Hall, Scott Steiner, Sting, etc. He just watched the RAW where Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman, and the WCW and ECW guys were standing in the ring and thought “Wouldn’t it be so much more impressive if Goldberg, Hall, Nash, Steiner, Jarrett, and Sting? Rock’s gone, Hunter’s hurt. All of the sudden it’s ‘Oh my god… if they beat up Angle and Austin, they’re going to kill us.’” Instead, you get generic and faceless WCW and ECW guys who get lost in the mix. He doesn’t regret being there for now because he’s been hurt over the past six months and he wants to be ready before he goes back instead of embarrassing himself like Booker and Buff did on a live RAW.
Thoughts on his media appearances- The MTV Blitz show was fun because only he and Nash had a clue about what was going on. They saw it as promoting themselves instead of promoting their characters, so they went out and got shit-faced drunk beforehand and had fun on the show while Booker, Steiner, and others were all serious and in kayfabe.
Where does he see the business in the next five years? It’s hard to see, but the one thing wrestling needs is the emergence of new superstars. “Nobody saw Kurt Angle coming. Nobody saw The Rock coming, it just happened.” Since Angle, they haven’t really created a new superstar. The new wave of ratings will hit when they create a new batch of superstars. If they don’t create new superstars in the next five years, ratings will plateau where they are now. “They won’t go lower than about the 4s they’re getting now.” (Good guess but not quite, Disco. They had been drawing in the high 3s for a long time but breifly re-entered the 4s when Rock and Austin returned. They're sloping downwards to the low 3s now and it'll stay that way until someone new who DOESN'T suck gets a huge push and several months to be taken seriously. Cena was a distinct possibility although they blew that by having Taker relive the Royal Rumble 1994 casket match last week on SD.)
Would he do anything differently? He’d pay Goldberg and the other guaranteed money guys so that they’d come to the WWF. He feels that Vince has enough money out there that he can afford to do it. All he’d need to do is let AOL-Time Warner pay half of the guaranteed money as a buyout then pay the other half to the wrestlers himself before signing them to WWF contracts. He feels that the number of top matches available to them would make it worth their while, such as Rock-Goldberg and Austin-Goldberg. He contrasts what they’re doing now to the nWo angle by saying that Nash and Hall were treated as something special from the start, they and Hogan beat WCW’s top guys, then lots of the WCW guys started joining them. In this angle, they’re bringing in the WCW guys and saying “Who the hell are these people?” instead of educating the fans to who the ECW and WCW people are. (I’d say outside of Rob Van Dam, NO ONE from the Alliance got over that wasn’t already a WWF guy.)
Can people make a full-time living in wrestling today? Wrestlers can make a living by doing wrestling and other stuff on the side. The Rock’s making 5 million dollars a movie every few months. Mick Foley is an A-list actor, although it’s hard to tell considering his appearance. He just thinks that most people sell themselves short and he doesn’t want to do that to himself.
Good rib stories- Dave Penzer used to get ribbed by the referees all the time. One time, his briefcase was completely covered in electrical tape while, another time, it was suspended from the ceiling. During the Australia trip, they took over a bar one night and had a lot of fun. It turns out that a picture of it was on the front of an Australian newspaper the next day with the headline “WCW Takes Over Australia”.
Favorite place to go to? Las Vegas by far, although Miami and Tampa, Florida, are up there. Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Diego, and some little town in Illinois are also good. Doesn’t like Bourbon Street in New Orleans and feels it’s overrated. Canada is also good because “Canadians party way more than Americans.” According to Playboy, a little Canadian college town has the best looking girls ever and, after the show there they went out to party and agree with them wholeheartedly.
Who does he like to work with in the ring? Billy Kidman, Konnan, Alex Wright, and Chris Benoit. His least favorite guy to work with is Ernest Miller (The Cat) because he’s too stiff and is pretty green. His offense is good but his bumping sucks.
DDP- Outrageous. Just unbelievable. One night after a show, he called people over to see him in his car where he’s got icepacks on, an electrical stimulator for his muscles attached, something set up so he can eat, etc. When he turned over, he accidentally turned up the dial on the electrical stimulator and just started convulsing because of it.
Eric Bischoff- Visionary but not very creative. He can handle a business plan but he can’t create a product for the 17-34 male demographic.
Vince McMahon- Tremendous actor. Best interview in wrestling.
Paul Heyman- His character is too over-the-top. Paul E on commentary sounds like Cartman from South Park if you aren’t paying close attention.
Scott Levy (Raven)- Brilliant mind for the business and pretty funny. Liked his stuff better when he was wacked out on drugs.
Booker T- He’ll tell you he’s one of the top 5 performers in the business and means it. If they could put his real life character on TV, he’d do as well as The Cat did by being himself. He tries to do too many wrestling interviews instead of being himsef.
Lance Storm- They thought “Here’s this boring Canadian guy, so let’s make him a boring Canadian guy on TV” and it worked. Really strong character.
Arn Anderson- Brilliant with finishes but still too old-school.
Lex Luger- Thinks he’s WAY better than he is. He was great about nine years ago because no one looked like him a the time.
Mark Madden- “Our best color commentator.” He tries to be too smart for his own good, though. One day in a booking meeting, they came up with Storm winning the Hardcore title and renaming it the Stu Hart International Title or SHIT. Since they couldn’t use Stu’s name, they went with Saskatchewan Hardcore International Title, but Madden jumped on the initials too quickly for the fans to think about the joke. He would try to make himself look good at the expense of the storyline.
The Power Plant guys- He’s the one who got them on TV since they couldn’t hire any new guys. He figured that they had Luger and a bunch of other worthless guys on TV so they couldn’t be any worse than them. They all looked good and were young, so they brought them in. Everyone talked about how green they were and said “Isn’t there somewhere we can send them?”, but he told them “This isn’t like the WWF where they have a farm club for these guys [Ohio Valley Wrestling and, at the time, an additional promotion in Memphis]” He decided to have them work with the Filthy Animals in order to make them look good. He says that a lot of them have a star persona and he feels they’ll be on top of the business if they do what they need to do.
Sidenote- I disagree for the most part. Chuck Palumbo was pretty worthless when he wasn’t Billy Gunn’s “lifemate”. Mike Sanders can talk but hasn’t impressed me in the ring. Shawn O’Haire has a good look and a decent gimmick in the WWE right now but he’s in limbo. Mark Jindrak keeps getting hurt and is stuck in OVW. Shawn Stasiak is now out of the business and is learning to be a chiropractor.
Is there anything he wants to say to his fans? “I don’t think I have any fans, do I?” There’s only a few people who know what wrestling really is and it’s a 2-hour television show. You don’t have to cater to the people reading the kayfabe sheets because they’ll watch anyway. You need to grab segments from other audiences like what RAW did with Austin and Angle doing comedy. “It’s like Everybody Loves Stone Cold or Raw Is Cheers.” He doesn’t think the hardcore wrestling fans will turn off the TV as long as there are still stars there. As long as Rock, Austin, Angle, Triple H, etc. are there, you won’t lose the hardcore fans. You can always create new stars and, thus, increase your fanbase. They might also be created backstage instead of in the ring.
Sidenote- He’s right about part of this argument. If things are generally going well and people the fans want to see are being featured, you don’t lose the hardcore audience. However, if you do dumbass stuff like have Triple H hump a mannequin on a live RAW, people are going to change the channel and probably not come back. I’m also a big believer in the theory that, while backstage humor can create stars, it is a sideshow to wrestling, which is why people watch to begin with. If a non-fan wants comedy, they’ll watch Everybody Loves Raymond instead of imitation Raymond with Booker T and Goldust. The real problem is that Vince McMahon seems to have lost touch with reality on how to grab outside audiences. He’s doing stupid publicity stunts like Hot Lesbian Action teases, gay weddings, and necrophilia instead of doing an angle with a celebrity, with the Wrestlemania 14 program with Mike Tyson being the best example. The latest cross-promotions, a Girls Gone Wild PPV featuring Test and a Playboy photo shoot with Torrie Wilson, are not going to turn things around. Test is NOT a person you should use to try and cross-promote ANYTHING because he can’t even make a wrestling angle look good, let alone do something that would get fans to watch WWE programming. Torrie, on the other hand, is neither the best looking nor most popular of the Divas. That sets her apart from Sable, who was both attractive and popular in 1998 when she posed, and Chyna, who was extraordinarily popular and had mainstream appeal because she was a woman competing in a man’s sport.
Disco Inferno segment- This is between WCW stints for Disco. Disco spends about 5-10 minutes playing to the crowd before Big Stevie Cool (Steven Richards) comes out and cuts a promo on him.
Disco Inferno (with a manager that looks like a cross between Paul Heyman and The Penguin… and I’m not kidding either) vs. Big Stevie Cool- Joel Gertner does the introductions here even though this isn’t an ECW show. Stevie also cuts a pre-match promo. Stevie hits Disco with a Stevenkick that should have given him the win but the entire goddamn lockeroom empties, kicks Stevie’s ass, and rolls Disco on top for the win and the Crappy Indy Title. This makes that Undertaker-Yokozuna casket match at Royal Rumble 94 seem like an average Rock loss.
Disco Inferno, with the Penguin lookalike and Some Random Guy, vs. Big Stevie Cool, with Da Blue Guy (Blue Meanie)- Stallfest to start. Stevie wins with a Stevenkick but it gets reversed to Stevie winning by DQ, with Disco retaining the Crappy Indy Title. Stevie teases handing the title back but lays Disco out with it and keeps it.
Disco and Random Guy, with Penguin vs. Da Blue Guy and Some Other Guy- You can tell exactly how enthused I am about these matches by seeing how I describe the participants… Some Other Guy pins Disco with a sunset flip after the referee catches Penguin lending support to Disco to try and stay standing.
Thoughts: The interview itself contains a few contradictions in it. Disco is gung ho about “the old guys” who politic their way into staying on top being removed from the business but he consciously looks the other way for his pals Nash and Hall, both of whom are about Hogan’s age. As for the matches, this tape certainly has some of the worst matches ever included on a shoot tape. Of the ones I saw, the only one worth a crap was the table match with Crowbar. Recommended.